Strong Fundamentals

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How one small improvement can deliver 10% to conversion

Seth Matisak

Head of Design @ Forward Partners

We speak with Seth Matisak, Forward Partners’ Head of Design, about a recent project which saw a 10% leap in conversion from a small tweak.

What was the context to start with?

When you’re a young business, it’s always an exercise of spinning plates and knowing that some may start really wobbling before you can get to them.

In this case, there was a hero page live on the website, but it had been published much earlier in the life of the young business. As a result, it was getting a bit stale for the audience and not serving its job as well as it might.

The team knew this was a quick win if once they could turn their attention to it — and assumed that it was responsible for some problems with conversion and impact for its audience.

Isn’t this an incredibly specific thing to expect to be having such a big impact?

It is — but it’s also a pivotal part of the site that does extreme lifting across many different functions.

The hero section is the first impression for most potential users who arrive at your site. And because of its prominent placement, a visitor reasonably expects it to be the number one concise summary of what makes your business great. And crucially, what makes it great *for them*.

It also has to achieve softer purposes — it’s going to communicate a certain sense of “trust-worthiness”. Or not. If you are a young business, it’s critical that it reflects any third party endorsement that you have that can give a visitor confidence in your ability to deliver.

Finally, it has to persuade the viewer to actually take action. It should be a springboard helping them into the rest of your site.

And all while ticking technical boxes like optimising for responsive design and performance to create a seamless experience.

So that’s a lot of factors compounding on this at once.

Exactly. And it the situation has come about because of a very natural trend in the life of young companies; the external designer they had been relying on was no longer available.

This is very very normal. It’s a very common situation to end up in.

Where do you start with the process?

Well first of all, we’re trying to agree the priorities and requirements, in line with the topics I mentioned above: clarity of the proposition, increasing trust and a strong call-to-action.

As you then dig into that, you have to think really carefully about what they are trying to communicate about the proposition. What is the most important thing? At no point is this a simple exercise for a young and fast-growing company. So it’s an opportunity to really dig in again and refine and iterate on this.

They had done some research previously — and it should be said that this is an area where user research really really pays dividends. That played a huge role in letting us get moving quickly.

And what about the importance of visual design in all this?

Right, yes — that’s absolutely an element that can easily get lost.

The visual design of the first impression communicates as much as any other aspect. We could see from the existing landing page material that there was scope to bring things forward to a more modern and appealing take.

You can also add to the trust factor with how a page communicates itself visually. This is a combination of the kinds of fonts, colours, shapes you use — but also the how technically robust the experience is. There’s nothing worse to undermine confidence in a product than a website falling apart at the seams.

The final factor on the visual side is inconsistency. Again, this can undermine a visitor’s feeling of trust in the experience. And that can make them think twice about taking the action you want.

What other elements were you able to consider that made a difference to the project?

One of the primary rules of startups is to always be testing and iterating for the best returns. Especially with new kinds of product or service, your primary goal is to understand what people really want — product/ market fit.

That meant there was an opportunity here to try out a few options and see which performed best. The experiments we tried again related to the three categories of the design — so we tried different ways to introduce the trust logos, different images and copy for the call to action.

Anything else that should be kept in mind here?

It can have a pivotal impact on the value of your growth investments.

By that, I mean if you are putting money into Pay Per Click and other sponsored efforts to bring in traffic, if they land and see a hero banner that doesn’t really do its job, then those resources may be wasted.

How long did it take?

I believe we turned the work around in just a couple of days — so that’s three different options, getting feedback, deciding which to test, all in that short period of time.

And what was the outcome?

After the winning version from our tests was put live, we saw a 10% update to booking conversion. Simple as that.

Just to be clear — and especially for such a specific part of the site, this is at least double what you might expect.

It just goes to show how important it is to get things right with the clarity proposition, and mobilising that for viewers to take the action you want.

Where do you go from here?

With such a strong result, it gives us a great direction to start pulling out for the rest of the site. And in turn, what we learn doing that should give us options to improve the landing page further, and provide further gains in future.


Seth Matisak

Head of Design @ Forward Partners

Seth brings 7 years of design experience from around the world including Washington DC, Cleveland, Ohio and Malta having won awards for his print and packaging designs. He has a strong passion for all things branding and helped maintain brand standards for world-wide corporations (Nestle, Nokia, John Deere, Kimberly Clark and Sherwin Williams) while also creating new and engaging brands for start-ups, city organisations and charities while his ability to transition his layout and branding skills to the digital world has resulted in clean, intuitive and modern web designs.

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